Goody, goody…my package from REI is here. A visit to a real REI store has always been a treat, going all the way back to the days when my kids were little and the Timonium, MD store was the carrot (at least for Mom) on the long drive from VA to PA. Last weekend I discovered one just on the outskirts of Richmond, in Short Pump!
I spent lots of travel time researching shoes and thought I had found the ones…Chaco Outcross Evo 1 water shoes … a brand I have never owned before.
But they’re light (their 1 lb. 2 oz. weight saves 7 oz.), with good padding, support, traction and a totally closed heel. Plus the color is simply lovely. The biggest debate was not whether to buy them, but in what size. Finally, going by the “true to size” reviews and the saleswoman who said Merrells and Chacos run similar and looking down at the well-loved size 8 Merrell trail shoes on my feet, I chose 8’s. Not sure how much I will wear them barefoot or with liners or Smartwool socks.
Then there’s my hat. I am stubborn, and last summer I lost my favorite paddling hat. Sometimes it can just be incredibly difficult to find a replacement for something! This is true, of course, not just for hats but for all manner of things. The difficulty, I believe, is directly proportional to how much you loved the item. I simply wanted a baseball style tan cap, quick-drying and WITHOUT a stiff brim. Finally, in the Short Pump REI I found one. Happy day! It does have mesh ventilation on either side but that is all to the good. So now a new hat for the top of me and new shoes for the bottom and most of the stuff in the middle will not be new.
(This is my first post composed on my iPad rather than my laptop!)
Fusion…the process of combining two or more distinct entities into a new whole. Like the Western cowboy and his horse, a paddler and her boat should become one. This fall, therefore, I set out in search of my missing half, a boat that might be faster and lighter than my kayak, while retaining many of the qualities I love about my old boat. Let me introduce you to the Wenonah Fusion, a 13-foot solo canoe weighing just 30 pounds in Kevlar, shown below.
By the way, among the many types of fusion (like nuclear), I discovered binaural fusion, the cognitive process of combining the auditory information received by both ears and binocular fusion, the cognitive process of combining the visual information received by both eyes. So even hearing distant rapids and spotting a bear (which I have yet to do on the river) involve fusion!
My new boat will arrive at Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockland in early May at the latest. The folks there were kind enough to arrange for a loaner of the same model in the heavier Royalex, which handled well on a surprisingly warm Christmas paddle on the Pemaquid River. So about a week ago I paid the hefty deposit, guaranteeing a place for my canoe in their large spring shipment. So now I wait, about as patiently as a small child nearing Christmas, for the chance to carry and pack and paddle my new Fusion.
I promised myself and I try to keep my promises. I would start my new blog at the beginning of March and not a moment later. So here it is, a blank journal to fill with my thoughts and adventures, a chance to share my life with you.
If you have been a recipient of this epic winter deluge of snow and frigid air, perhaps you share my joy at finding myself on the doorstep of March. Spring and longer days are assured and such wistful dreams as green grass, new leaves and gently lapping waters are drawing closer. Late this afternoon I crunched my way over the crisscrossing snowshoe trails in the woods behind my house. They are my winter creation and my tether to the outdoors in this bitter cold. As the light dimmed homeward, the calming rustle of beech leaves gave way to the heart thump of an owl’s sudden flight from above.
March also brings me ever closer to my summer journey, a solo through-paddle of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. This 740-mile trail winds its way from Old Forge, NY to Fort Kent, ME, following historic paddling routes through waters large and small, still and turbulent, all connected by good old-fashioned portages. The half in Maine I have paddled before (except for seven elusive miles) and half I have never seen. Trip planning is gaining momentum, as I shop for a boat, test new recipes, upgrade equipment, and try to picture the NY, VT, Quebec, and NH portions of the NFCT. Much more on all that later!